Got Hypothyroidism? 5 Questions You NEED to Ask Your Doctor.

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Hypothyroidism? 5 Questions about Thyroid Tests and TSH that you MUST ask your doctors.

Finding a doctor that will adequately test for and treat hypothyroidism can seem like a daunting task.

Indeed, I’ve gone to more doctors than I can recall searching for one who would work with me to adequately treat my hypothyroidism.

Along the way, I’ve discovered there are some good questions to start with when interviewing your doctor.

Yes, you can interview your doctors.

They work for you.

You are paying them.

If they do not answer to your satisfaction…

you should fire them.

This can be intimidating, but it’s necessary if you’re serious about regaining your health.

Do not fear.

Be assertive.

You may not find a doctor that answers all of these questions 100% correctly.

That might be ok.

If your doctor is willing to listen to you, partner with you, and even learn from you, you’ve likely found a winner. It’s so important that you advocate for your own health care.

It’s equally important that you find a flexible doctor willing to listen and work with you, not dictate to you.

5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Hypothyroidism

1. What labs will you run to determine if my thyroid is functioning appropriately?
Will you primarily use TSH for diagnosing and determining whether my thyroid levels are optimal?

If the answer to this question is, “Yes, we primarily use TSH,” this should be an automatic deal-breaker. You don’t need to go any further with the rest of the questions. The interview is over. As was explained in this post, TSH has been used as the gold standard for testing thyroid function, but it’s a fairly useless test.

Be sure to check out “Your Thyroid Test is Wrong and What to Do About It” to get the low-down on the tests that you should request your doctor to run.

Your doctor may not list all of these tests, but at a very minimum they should be testing your Free T3 levels, Free T4 levels, and anti-thyroid antibodies.

2. What is the lab’s “normal” range for these tests and what range do you believe would be optimal for me?

Ideally, your doctor will realize that the optimal range for you will be unique.

Typically people feel their best when their Free T3 levels are towards the top of the range and their Free T4 levels are in the mid to upper range.

If your doctor runs your vitamin D levels, you should be looking for levels in the upper part of the normal range.

3. Will you take into consideration the presence or absence of my symptoms when dosing and not just labs?

The answer you’re hoping to hear to this question is a resounding “Absolutely!”

The presence or absence of hypothyroid symptoms is so important! Your health care provider should listen to you and not just rely on a piece of paper with numbers on it for treatment.

Of course, if your labs are all at ideal levels, you and your doctor should also be open to exploring other problems that may be causing your symptoms. Maybe you need to look into adrenal function? Or a more advanced thyroid test: Reverse T3 levels. Or maybe you are having problems with anemia? Be aware, you could have confounding problems that are exasperating or mimicking your hypothyroid symptoms.

4. What thyroid replacement drug will you be prescribing for me?

If your doctor responds with levothyroxine (or synthroid) you may want to follow up with an additional questions: would you consider prescribing natural desiccated thyroid, such as Nature Throid or Armour thyroid?

If the doctor has answered all of the questions right up to this point and is willing to give natural desiccated thyroid a try, you’re doing pretty good. If the doctor is not willing to be flexible on this point, I’d move on and look for a new health care provider.

It’s also worth noting that there are some people who respond better to T3 only medication. Your doctor should be open to exploring this option, should you need it. Though, it appears from reading both the research as well as listening to numerous individual testimonies the vast majority of people respond the best to natural desiccated thyroid.

5. How often will you run tests to check my thyroid levels?
After we have my levels adjusted to the optimal level, how often do you suggest I get tested?

Your health care provider should be checking your levels every 6-8 weeks until they are in the optimal range and you are feeling well. After which, your levels should be checked no less than once a year. Ideally, your doctor should give you a lab slip to keep on hand so you can go to the labs and have your blood drawn anytime you feel your levels may be off.

If you’re having a difficult time finding a doctor who will treat you, be sure to check out my post on 3 Steps for Finding an Awesome Doctor to Treat Hypothyroidism.  

Please remember that neither Adrienne nor Trisha are doctors and we don’t pretend to be either.  Please do not make any changes to your exercise, diet, or supplement regiment without consulting with your physician.

And if you have hypothyroid symptoms, you should check out this book.  I (Adrienne) bought it recently and it is a wealth of great information (albeit having quite a few typos).  (The link to the book is an affiliate link. If you click on it and make a purchase, commissions might be earned.  They are appreciated and help keep this free resource up and running.)

One of the best books on thyroid health in my opinion.

One of the best books on thyroid health in my opinion.

Do you have a health care provider who is doing a good job of treating your hypothryoidism?
What questions were a tell-tale sign that they were a keeper?

Luke-Trisha-150x150Trisha Gilkerson is a homeschooling mom to four crazy boys. She blogs with her awesome hubby Luke at Intoxicated on Life where they talk about faith, homeschooling, and health. They’ve authored the Write Through the Bible curriculum and family Bible Studies and have recently released their first healthy living book - Weeding Out Wheat: A Simple Faith Based Guide. They love connecting with their readers, so be sure to follow them on their blogFacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Pinterest.

 

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  1. I was diagnosed with low thyroid many years ago, and put on synthetic thyroid hormone. It didn’t make me feel any different, so I eventually stopped taking it. At one point I asked to be tested for Hashimoto’s and the specialist refused to order the test. He said it didn’t matter whether I had it or not, because the treatment was the same.

    • Sheryl,
      The synthetic thyroid hormone didn’t help me either? Have you found a doctor that will work with you? If not, it sounds like it would be a good idea to find a doctor who can really partner with you to get to the bottom of your health issues and treatment options. If you’re not sure where to start, be sure to read the post I linked to above that will give you tips for finding a good thyroid doctor, then these questions will help you decide if they really are going to be a good fit!

  2. Thanks Adrienne and Trisha for all you do. I really appreciate this information as this is the way I am having to go. Not only is it nice to know that others experience the same thing I do with Doctors but the information is a wealth of knowledge.

    Thanks again!!
    Denise

  3. Stephanie W. says:

    ‘Good post! One thing I like about my current prescribing doctor is that he “lets” me dose myself pretty much. Since pathogens and toxins have been my major root cause, things have changed often enough that I cannot wait to see what a blood test will say (and by that time it’s probably changed again!). Plus, I’ve learned to read my body fairly well so that I usually know when my dose needs to change. My former endocronologist was adamant about waiting for blood test results most of the time, leaving me feeling more awful for an unnecessary time.

    • That’s great you can have such trusting relationship with your doctor. It does take a person who is in tune with their body to know how to dose themselves. I can pretty well tell when my thyroid levels are off too.

  4. Great post! I wanted to throw this info into the mix: I have been on medicine for hypothyroid for 10 years now. As we’ve added children over the past 9 years, we’ve become more and more interested in living/eating healthy, and I’ve finally become aware of autoimmune issues, and how to heal them. I have now been on the GAPS protocol for 6 months and my thyroid antibodies (indicating Hashimoto’s) went from 112 (pre-GAPS), down to 22 (3.5 mos into GAPS) and now it’s under 20 (normal)! My doctor and I are in the process of reducing the dosage of my medicine.